What I Expect From Literary Masterpieces

What a masterpiece should do

Literary masterpieces should keep the audience enthralled by placing the reader in the story. The reader should be able to envision himself or herself as the author, protagonist, or antagonist. For example, even when I write fictional stories I prefer to envision myself as the protagonist. I also try to make the setting and atmosphere as precise and realistic as possible by thoroughly researching the history of the area and its inhabitants. By doing so, I am able to give my audience a clearer picture of the surroundings, the characters involved in the story, and the era and place in which they lived or died. This, I believe is because of the place and time in which I was raised.

Hyder, Arizona

I grew up in a tiny town of approximately 300 citizens, most of whom were seasonal migrant workers, in Arizona's Mojave Desert during the early 1960s and 1970s. Back then we did not own a computer because they were so large, complex, and expensive that most people did not own or use them. We had no video games, cell phones, or other modern electronic gaming devices that many young people enjoy today. Our only source of recreation was competing in an occasional game of pool, playing pin-ball, listening to the jukebox at the local bar, swimming in the hot pool (which was actually a farmers rendition of a swimming pool that consisted of a well that pumped hot water into a huge cement-lined hole in the ground), or reading. Here, our only source of home viewing pleasure was our television in which the reception was often unreliable because we were forced to rely on an antenna on the roof for transmission because we did not have cable or satellite communication. Even viewing a show at the theatre or drive-in consisted of journeying for 60 or 70 miles to Yuma or Phoenix, so we were limited to doing so only once or twice a month or whenever we needed to purchase groceries or school clothes. However, there were other forms of entertainment to satisfy my sister and I such as exploring the vast desert, searching for Army relics from World War II, traveling along the old Butterfield Stage Route during outings, watching the skies for unidentified flying objects, and playing in the old hotel in the nearby ghost town called Agua Caliente. Therefore, here was where I also learned the value of informative reading.

My earliest literature

As I grew older simply using the rock formations of Hyder Camp (where military forces had once trained under Patton's supervision) as my playhouses, using the Army mess kits to feed my dolls, pretending I was a dance hall girl in the old hotel, playing cowboys and Indians with the authentic long-barreled pistol I had found, or simply gazing at the stars no longer satisfied me. I began to yearn for knowledge about the time and place that surrounded me and I also wanted to learn about faraway places. Therefore, I began listening in earnest as old man Condé related tales about how his family was the first to settle in the area and reading literature written by authors such as Zane Grey, Hemingway, Edgar Alan Poe, Mark Twain, and even Shakespeare, among others. These were authors who knew history and adventure, and had traveled to places I had never been. They made me want to be the protagonist in their stories.

How literature influences me today

While I may read different types of literature today such as works by Eudora Welty, Jean Auls, John Updyke, and Kate Chopin, literature still influences me in the same way. Literature still has to make sense and be witty, informative, and adventurous. However, above all else it must be written in an easy to comprehend or poetic style. By this, I mean it must not have words that are too long or too hard to understand, the words must flow in harmony (there must be adequate transitions between paragraphs or statements), and it must let me envision myself as the protagonist.

Literature that does not influence me

A friend once asked me why I do not read or write to a more academic canon, or one that is written purely for scholarly pursuits, or one that is written in a language that is hard to comprehend, such as some of those containing myths and legends of ancient or biblical times. In my reply I stated that I do not see myself as the fair maiden awaiting her hero who rides in a chariot of fire adorned in gold relief. I do not see myself as the god who showers down thunderbolts or great spears of lightening. I am not the one who parted the seas and saved the earth from the biblical flood. Nor do I dream about these characters of old, or wish to be like them. In my mind I cannot be the protagonist in their stories, and they are not witty, fun, or adventuresome, thus, they influence me very little. However, I can see myself as the maiden clad in bonnet and shawl who rides in the covered wagon while being chased by Indians who are bent on taking my scalp in one of Zane Grey's novels. In my mind and heart I am a member of Jean Auel's Cave Bear Clan. I often dream of being the protagonist in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn as he rafts down the mighty Mississippi River, and I have been the one who sat on the river bank with cane poll in hand, waiting for the catfish to bite. Thus, these authors and others like them are the ones who influence me the most.

Summary

When I was a young girl I almost hated the town in which I lived because it was so far from society and the friends I had left behind. I had come from a much bigger place where I had many friends. I had come from a place where I could walk or ride my bike to Oscar's market to enjoy ice cream and sodas whenever I wished. This was also the place where we did not need to drive so many miles to the drive-in theatre or other attractions, and we could go shopping or visit my cousins every weekend. Therefore, this place was so unlike the tiny town I now called home that I thought I would never fit in and would always miss my friends and the conveniences I'd previously had access to so easily. However, there was one thing that I did not have in that bigger town, and that was an appreciation for reading, writing, and history. As a result of this knew knowledge I have never regretted growing up in the tiny town called Hyder because my prior expectations of literary masterpieces had changed from utter nothingness to something quite grandiose.

 

More by this Author

  • This Town is too Small to Hyder
    20

    The story of my hometown, Hyder Arizona, was written because this is where I first developed my inclination to write. It's rich history induced me because of its magic. But above all else, this is the story of how one...

  • Why do men hog the Remote?
    6

    While controlling the remote may seem to be a very important matter in some households, it need not be. There are much more serious matters at hand, such as maintaining a good and strong family relationship. If all...


Comments 4 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I think most of us who write start out trying to be "literary" and try to use fancy words and long complex sentence structure. As we learn more and experience more we learn that simplicity is best. It is good to have a large vocabulary but a mistake to try to show off and use it all.It's sort of like panning for gold. You have to get rid of everything that is not gols,or at least try.

I think I usually identify with the antagonist.What you say about the town you grew up in sounds like a place that you can find a lot of material for stories--the swimming pond,the migrant workers,even the TV that didn't work so good.

Good hub. I rate it up,beautiful and useful.


Marcie Fields9Callon) 5 years ago

LOVE IT BROUGHT BACK A lot OF STUFF FROM THE PAST I SOMETIME WHISH I COULD GO BACK AND LIVED IT AGAIN.


writer20 profile image

writer20 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

Great writing, keep it coming


Deerwhisperer profile image

Deerwhisperer 5 years ago from Bradenton, Florida Author

That place is even more magical to me now that I am old and gray. Hopefully I'll be able to go back there some day, although I realize it won't be the same. Oh well, until then I have my memories and my hubs. By the way, I'm working on another one about Hyder, so stay tuned! Thanks all.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working